Tatjana Schoenmaker got South Africa on the board in the early hours of Tuesday morning, earning the national team’s first medal of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Though she lined up as the pre-race favourite in the morning session on day four of the Games, after setting an Olympic record of 1:04.82 in the heats, Schoenmaker was edged out by American teenager Lydia Jacoby in the 100m breaststroke final.
She managed to hang on, however, grabbing second place for the silver medal.
Jacoby won in 1:04.95, with Schoenmaker touching the wall in 1:05.22.
Another American swimmer, world record holder Lilly King, finished third in 1:05.54.
“I’m not going to complain [about missing out on gold]. I’m walking out of here with a medal and I hope this gives our country a bit of hope,” Schoenmaker said.
“We’re going through a tough time, and if I can create a little bit of hope that we can do it as South Africans, then I’m very happy.”
Schoenmaker became the first South African woman in 21 years to secure a medal in swimming at the Olympics.
She will return to the pool for the 200m breaststroke heats on Wednesday morning, as she sets her sights on another podium place.